New board, big challenges: College leaders' work cut out

Community college officials must expand programs and increase employee morale with tight budgets. And, they'll have to do it with a new panel of leaders.

Colorado Northwest Com--munity College will soon have a new president. The college's Craig campus will have to forge ahead without a vice president. And, three of the five members who make up the board that oversees a locally collected mill levy are new to the position.

Trapper Mine General Manager Ray Dubois, former high school teacher Carol Bullen and community college student Brenda Walsh have been appointed to the Moffat County Affiliated Junior College District Board of Control.

The new members are taking over at a critical time, former Board of Control member Link Derick said.

They'll be supported, board member Kandy Kropinak said.

"Craig is very active in its community college," she said. "Individuals are very supportive of the college and interested in it."

The new board members' first priority in their four-year term, Derick said, will be to ensure that local support for the college continues. Three mills of each Moffat County resident's property tax go to the local college. The Board of Control oversees and appropriates that funding, which nets $900,000 to $1 million a year. That money can be used for program development but not staffing.

The mill levy sunsets in 2008, but in November, the board plans to ask voters to continue it.

"That is going to be critical," Derick said. "If it sunsets, the campus just diminishes."

That money is used to offset tuition costs for local residents.

Until this year, the money was used to pay 100 percent of the tuition for Moffat County residents. Now, the money covers 75 percent of tuition costs. It also was used to launch the college's nursing and cosmetology programs.

"Local residents help support programs so much through the mill levy," Kropinak said. "We have to thank them."

Derick said it's a difficult time for such a large amount of turnover. The college will soon have a new president and the Board of Control is negotiating with The Memorial Hospital for land the college is donating for the construction of a new hospital.

Derick, Barbara Pughe and Jim Ross left the board because of term limits. Their last meeting was in November, but they met with the new board members then to discuss the status and history of the project and future goals.

Kropinak and Dana Gregory remain on the board.

"There's a dual goal of expanding programs and expanding the campus," Derick said. "What board members have to do is balance using the mill levy between the needs of the future and the needs of the present."

Colorado Northwestern Com--munity College, which has campuses in Craig and Rangely, is part of the state's community college system. It funded by the state and by tuition.

Three members of the local board serve on the college's advisory board.

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